The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued regulations that allow foreign universities ranked among the world’s top 500 to establish branch campuses in India. These regulations grant them the authority to determine their admission process, fee structure, and the repatriation of funds to their parent campuses.
Collaboration among two or more foreign universities is also permitted for the establishment of campuses in India, provided each institution individually meets the eligibility criteria. Additionally, each foreign university has the option to establish multiple campuses in India but must submit separate applications for each proposed campus to the commission.
These guidelines were issued after nearly 10 months since the draft was published for public feedback. Based on the received input, the final regulations have been refined. For instance, the final rules stipulate that international faculty appointed by foreign universities to teach at Indian campuses should reside in the country for at least one semester.
Furthermore, the time period for the standing committee to process applications has been extended from 45 days to 60 days in the final rules. The committee’s recommendations must be presented to the UGC within 60 days, as opposed to the 45-day duration outlined in the draft regulations.
The regulations also specify that foreign universities cannot establish learning centers, study centers, or franchises that serve as representative offices of the parent entity for promotional activities in India or any other jurisdiction outside India without prior approval from the commission. These regulations also prohibit the offering of programs online or in open and distance learning modes. However, they do allow for lectures in online mode, not exceeding 10% of the program requirements.
Foreign institutions are not required to pay annual fees to the UGC, except for a one-time application fee. They must use their own infrastructure, land, physical resources, and human resources to establish their campuses. Foreign universities may offer full or partial merit-based or need-based scholarships and fee concessions to Indian students on their Indian campuses.
This move aligns with the National Education Policy, 2020, which envisions a legislative framework allowing top global universities to operate in India. Previous attempts, including those by the UPA government, faced opposition, including from the BJP, which was in the opposition at the time, and the Left parties.